Why dishonesty has become the best policy for UK workers

Almost three quarters of UK employees admit to carrying out dishonest acts at work - but only 23% view themselves as being dishonest.

It’s one of the striking findings to emerge from a nationwide audit of employee attitudes towards workplace honesty which has been commissioned by webexpenses.

The findings help to highlight how expenses fraud has become so normalised within UK business culture that, for many, it’s not viewed as being wrong.

The survey involved talking to more than 2,000 office workers about their views on various dishonest workplace acts. It found that 22% admitted to over claiming expenses, 22% to stealing stationary and 20% to falsifying sick days.

When asked why they committed these acts, the overwhelming response was simply because they could. The top reason given (39%) was that they didn’t feel they would get caught.

And almost a third (32%) considered these kinds of dishonest acts normal in their workplace and 24% said their bosses were also guilty of them.

Another finding was the way that over claiming was justified by employees as a way to compensate for a perceived lack of pay. This was the reason given by 32% of those who admitted to exaggerating expenses claim.

The findings build up a picture of UK workplaces in which expenses fraud has become normalised, something which is commonplace and tolerated, instead of being tackled.

Endemic expense fraud

It helps to explain how, otherwise honest employees, can justify committing expenses fraud, which is costing UK businesses around £100 million each year in losses.

Adam Reynolds, CEO of webexpenses, said:

“This research shows that dishonesty is potentially a far bigger problem in the UK workplace than we may have realised.

“For me, it’s particularly worrying that so many people say they have over-claimed on their expenses, as this can result in huge costs for businesses – more than a quarter (27%) of those surveyed admitted to having over-claimed by £100 or more.

“It’s even more worrying to see the reasons these people give, such as the fact it’s easy to do and it being a way of topping up their salary.

“This demonstrates why it’s so important that firms have a robust expense management procedure in place, including clear policies that state what is an acceptable claim and checks to make it difficult to get away with fraudulent claims.”

The survey findings found significant differences in attitudes towards workplace honesty in different regions and industry sectors.

Webexpenses provides a smarter way to manage your employee expenses. Find out more here.